Evidence to oppose safe rates? We don't have any

MPs from both sides of politics take ALC to task over its stance on the proposed safe rates tribunal

By Brad Gardner | February 22, 2012

MPs from both sides of the political fence have taken the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) to task over its stance on the proposed safe rates tribunal.

During the recent public hearing on the Road Safety Remuneration Bill, which will create the tribunal, Liberal-National Party member Paul Neville and Labor’s Stephen Jones homed in on the lobby group for its claim there is no link between low rates of pay and safety.

Jones repeatedly asked the ALC if it had any evidence to back up its claim, to which Managing Director Michael Kilgariff told him the group did not.

"This is a pretty important piece of legislation. I would have thought that, if you were to make the assertion that you as an organisation do not believe that there is any link between remuneration and road safety accidents, you would have commissioned or found some research which backed up your statement that there is no link," Jones says, according to a transcript of the hearing.

"No, we have not. But at the same time we do not believe that the definitive link has been established either," Kilgariff responded.

Along with the Australian Industry Group, the ALC fronted a parliamentary inquiry into the Bill to oppose the tribunal, which will have the power to impose paid waiting times and mandate payment terms.

The ALC believes national regulations, chain of responsibility law and the ALC’s voluntary codes of conduct that sections of the supply chain have signed up to are the most effective way of improving safety and productivity.

Kilgariff also pointed to statistics from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics showing a decline in fatal crashes involving heavy rigid trucks.

"I would have thought from the Australian Logistics Council we would have got a bit more sagacity and insight into this matter of safety," Neville told Kilgariff during the hearing.

"Your basic premise is that there is insufficient evidence to support a definitive link between remuneration levels and safety outcomes. We have had a series of inquiries going back 10 or 11 years now, one of which I chaired, where we felt that the limits had already at that time been pushed to a point where drivers were not receiving fair reward.

"Just to say that you do not think there has been any evidence and that there has been a small decrease in the number of heavy vehicle road fatalities – I do not think that establishes anything."

Neville says he understands why there are calls for a tribunal to be established because matters such as waiting times are not being dealt with effectively.

Kilgariff raised concerns over the tribunal’s coverage, which will be limited to 80 percent to employee drivers and 60 percent of owner-drivers due to constitutional limitations.

But Jones ridiculed the ALC’s suggestion that its voluntary codes covering the retail and steel sectors should be used to address fatigue and safety.

The codes set out a participant’s responsibilities to comply with road transport laws and occupational health and safety legislation, and Kilgariff says there are about 70 signatories to the retail code, with 20 to 30 signing up to the steel code.

"Surely your voluntary code is a blanket with far bigger patches in it than the legislation that is currently before the House," Jones says.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) also appeared before the parliamentary committee and referred to academic studies, government reports and inquiries to support its argument of a link between pay and safety.

"There is not a dearth of evidence; there is an avalanche of evidence in support of this bill," TWU National Assistant Secretary Michael Kaine says.

"The Australian Logistics Council should be considered to be in essence a mouthpiece of the major retailers of the industry."

The list of ALC members includes Woolworths, Coles, Metcash,Linfox, Toll, Queensland Rail and Star Track Express.

The tribunal is due to begin operating on July 1 with the power to investigate the supply chain and issue remuneration rulings to address unsafe practices.

A 2008 National Transport Commission (NTC) recommended government intervention in the marketplace on the basis low rates of pay and incentive-based payments encouraged unsafe practices such as speeding and drug use.

You can also follow our updates by joining our LinkedIn group or liking us on Facebook


Trucks For Hire | Forklifts For Hire | Cranes For Hire | Generators For Hire | Transportable Buildings For Hire